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I See Dead People

I SEE DEAD PEOPLE In case you haven't noticed, something interesting is afoot in the world of celebrity endorsements. More and more of the stars involved aren't just pushing brands-they're pushing daisies. Yes, dead celebrities are bigger than ever. Licensing deals with actors, singers and other notables who've shuffled off this mortal coil generated $2.17 billion last year-quite a paycheck for doing nothing. Marketing with departed stars is not, of course, a new idea. Gap's famous khakis campaign from 1993, for instance, resurrected everyone from Steve McQueen to Andy Warhol. But there are a few good reasons why it's so popular right now. First, a dead celeb will often sign-well, the equivalent thereof-for less money than a live one. Second, "advances in digital technology have allowed brands to resurrect celebrities [in increasingly naturalistic ways], like the British ad for Volkswagen that used Gene Kelly dancing," says Gabriela Salinas, author of The International Brand Valuation Manual. But most attractive of all: A dead celeb won't pull a Tiger Woods on you. "You know what you're getting," says David Reeder, whose L.A. firm GreenLight Rights handles the licensing for departed stars like Mae West and Johnny Cash. "Any negativity [about their lives] has long been digested by the popular cul- ture-and they've withstood the test of time." They sure have. Below, a look at some of the famous faces who are branding from the great beyond. -Robert Klara ETERNAL EARNERS: SOME OF THE COOLEST CELEBRITY ENDORSERS ARE WAY PAST THEIR PRIME MARILYN MONROE Died: 1962 Earnings: $8 million (and likely to increase soon)* Managed by: Authentic Brands, Inc. Coming appearances: Stay tuned. Authentic Brands and media company Neca acquired Monroe's licensing rights in January for a rumored $50 million. Authentic CEO Jamie Salter has promised that future Marilyn licensing won't be "trinkets and trash" but "elegant" branded clothing. ALBERT EINSTEIN Died: 1955 Earnings: $18 milliont Managed by: GreenLight Rights Recent roles: A TV spot for Chrysler, Nintendo's "Brain Game," a special edition Montblanc pen and- duh-the Baby Einstein line of educational CDs and books. Einstein's at least BOB MARLEY Died: 1981 Annual earnings: projected to hit $1 billion by 2012** Managed by: Authentic Brands, Inc. Where to see him: On everything from headphones to herbal supplements. In response to pirated Marley gear making an estimated $600 million, the Marley family partnered with venture capitalist Jamie Salter in 2009 to create the House of Marley, which now cranks out the products and guards the Jamaican music star's name like a lion in Zion. 6240 proof that celebrity value isn't all in the looks. "He's got this wildly unkempt appearance that makes him likeable," GreenLight's David Reeder says. "He's shorthand for genius." 2.2 BILLION DOLLARS ELVIS PRESLEY MICHAEL JACKSON Died: 1977 Estimated 2010 earnings: $60 milliont Managed by: Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. Now appearing on: Dolce & Gabbana T-shirts, Mr. Potato Head and a Nissan TV spot, to name just three. The 600,000 visitors to Graceland each year also snap up plenty of jackets, umbrellas, mugs and snow globes. Can't make it to Memphis? Visit ShopElvis.com. Died: 2009 Earnings to date: $310 millions Managed by: the Jackson family Starring on: Just about everything you can imagine. Head on over to the official MJ store online for your pick of shirts, wall calendars, belt buckles, mugs, posters, socks, Halloween costumes and-oh yeah, we almost forgot-music. Jackson's posthumous documen- tary This Is It alone has grossed nearly $252 million. Estimated total dead celebrity earning power through licensed products in 2010, according to The Licensing Letter *2006 figure from Forbes, latest available **CNNMoney estimate +figure from Elvis Presley Enterprises; Forbes ┼×including music sales; source: MTV News tbetween 1955 and 1998; source: The Independent 10 | ADWEEKMEDIA 3.14.2011 3.14.2011 | ADWEEKMEDIA | 11

I See Dead People

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Dead celebrity editorial infographic originally published in Adweek.

Publisher

Adweek

Designer

Carol Wells

Category

Entertainment
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